Adventures from the Caribbean’s Dark Side

Good Morning! Today's guest post comes from Chris Rogers!

What could be more romantic, I wondered, than sailing the Caribbean the way it was done a hundred years ago, before honking big ocean liners adulterated the experience into a noisy floating Vegas? I wasn’t yet a novelist, but I was aspiring and searching for a perfect setting, so I booked passage on a four-masted schooner that sailed from Saint Martin island. That trip changed my life perspective forever.

Growing up in Houston, I rarely communed with Nature. Cities, despite their efforts with public parks and other green spaces, tend to kick Nature to the curb. Not only are we insulated into air-conditioned buildings, when we do venture outdoors, Nature cowers. Constant traffic noise quashes Nature’s gentler sounds, while odors from diesel exhaust and unwashed dumpsters choke out more agreeable scents of magnolia or honeysuckle. Eventually, I realized taste had become my prevalent sensory pleasure, food and drink my go-to way to daily unwind.

That first day at sea I had no idea what to expect. We were told to be on deck at first bell to hoist the sails. There I was with my camera, hoping to catch some quick shots. But no.

“All hands on the sheets!” So I jumped in line and grabbed hold of a thick rope. “Pull!” And we pulled.

The sweet smell of ocean air was already filling this city dweller with a sense of freedom and adventure. “Pull!” It must have been the same for my neighbors up and down the line, because we were smiling at one another, caught up in the heady camaraderie of shared effort. “Pull!” Then the sails began to belly out in the wind with a soft but resilient popping sound—and a recollection from my youth came to me of bed sheets on a clothes line catching a breeze—and the ship slowly stirred beneath our feet.

Boat

Quietly, languidly gliding over the waves, we were at sail. Some people wrinkle their noses at the wail of bagpipes, but at that moment, on that ship, among the scent and sounds of the ocean, “Amazing Grace” drifted hauntingly on the air, and I felt my eyes smart with tears of astonishing contentment. Then all hell broke loose.

Pirates swarmed the deck. Actually, there were only two, but one had a huge sword, the other a huge pistol. Shots and curses rang out, all in fun, of course. Before long, except for the crew charged with keep us on course, we were all at breakfast in the dining hall. Even the “old salts,” passengers who’d sailed “barefoot” on previous cruises, were clearly enjoying the day. As for me, I’d found the setting for my romance novel.

In fact, I wrote three novels before realizing that romance was not my strong suit. Glowing rejections told me they contained too much mystery and suspense, not enough smooching. Considering that my favorite books had always been mystery, suspense, science fiction and dark fantasy, the news didn’t land as a complete surprise. My first published suspense novel shared nothing of that setting that had so captured my heart, nor did my second or my sixth.

When the notion of immortality caught hold of my imagination, it somehow linked with the pirate farce of my single tall-ship experience, and Captain Cord McKinsey was born. While I had no desire to write an entire novel set in 17th century piracy, I did want to dip into the flavor of that milieu, so I promptly cursed Captain McKinsey to spend eternity on his ship and brought them both into the present. What is a goodhearted pirate to do in the 21st century Caribbean but offer his vessel for island to island cruises?

Unfortunately, his cursed ship tends to attract passengers with paranormal problems that land solidly on McKinsey’s shoulders. With each cruise, adventures emerge from the dark side. He knows they will come but never knows precisely what dangers to expect until they’re upon him.

Pirates are intriguing to us, I think, because they’re the epitome of free spirits, yet they operate according to a true democratic structure. A ship’s captain can be voted out of office if he (or she) doesn’t measure up. Overall, however, the most intriguing part of the story for me is Cord McKinsey’s immortality. Most of us think living forever would be great, but would it?

About the Book:

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Captain Cord McKinsey, a pirate cursed in 1716 for doing a good deed, now operates his schooner, the Sarah Jane, as a cruise ship. Doomed to remain effectively ship-bound and within the Caribbean waters, Cord, 34, has often reinvented himself and his ship over these near 300 years.  

Though long despaired of ever breaking his curse, he becomes entwined in solving similar problems for passengers, problems that require extraordinary solutions. When his new Jamaican first mate, Ayanna, confesses she has been cursed by a Bokor, Cord agrees to help her locate a powerful shaman.

But the Bokor’s plan is more heinous and far-reaching than anyone suspects. The lovely Ayanna fails to mention that her mind and body are changing, taking form as a ravenous reptile. Even with the help of a psychic passenger, Cord may lose the people he cares for as well as his ship, the only square footage on land or sea where pain is not his constant companion.

Chris Rogers, best known for her novels of pure suspense, has previously confined any supernatural excursions to short stories featured in her Death Edge anthologies. In "Paradise Cursed", Rogers gives imagination full rein to explore life’s darker mysteries.

About the Author:

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Chris became a writer the easy way: She read voraciously and filled blank pages with drivel until her fingers cramped and her brain defected. Eventually, she learned to craft a decipherable sentence. Author of the Dixie Flannigan series, Bitch Factor, Rage Factor, Chill Factor and Slice of Life, Chris has published stories and essays in, among others, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and Writer's Digest.

While continuing to explore the literary venue, Chris inevitably embraced the creative form of paint on canvas, which allows her narrative flair and graphic origins to unfold in unison. While creating new canvases, she also participates in the design of her book covers. Her paintings can be found in private and corporate collections.

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